You’ve crunched the numbers, figured out your finances, and finally decided you’re ready for your first home. But buying a house is more than just mortgage applications and open houses — here are seven points to ponder before buying in 2019.
Beyond the property price, there are extra costs attached to buying a house, such as title transfer taxes and mortgage fees. Common financial wisdom says that you should stay in your newly purchased home for at least five years to recoup those costs. To make your first-home purchase worthwhile, look at your five-year life plan and see if it includes staying put for a bit.
Pick ’n’ Fix
There are definitely financial pluses to purchasing a house that needs a lot of work versus a move-in ready home. It could allow you to buy into a neighbourhood you couldn’t otherwise afford, and you can design the home exactly to your tastes. But keep in mind that layout-changing renovations will take time and can eat up mucho moolah — especially if/when you come across unexpected problems. The property-value payoffs can be significant, but be sure you’re willing to roll with the punches that come with a full-blown renovation.
If you’re thinking about buying your first property in 2019, consider what sort of home will best suit your lifestyle. Be honest about how often you’re home — if you travel a lot for work, maybe think about a townhouse for minimal maintenance. Older homes require a lot more attention than newer builds, so decide ahead of time if you’re up for all the upkeep. Buying a house is a massive undertaking; make sure you’re getting the right one for you and your way of life.
A house should cover the needs of its occupants, so make a list of who’ll be living in yours and their requirements. If you’re a senior who’s finally ready to buy into the market, consider a single-story, ranch-style home with limited stairs. If you have pets, maybe skip the condo and look for a home with ground-floor access instead. If you’re a young, childless couple but want to start a family soon, two bedrooms may not be enough.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
A home’s potential could be hidden under piles of the seller’s stuff, so be sure to look past that when house hunting. Remember, you’re buying a house, not the previous owner’s tastes, and so much can be changed after the purchase has been finalized. Wall colours, appliances, floor coverings and drapes — all of these can be easily swapped out to better suit your style. Don’t let the dwelling’s imperfections stand in the way of you making a smart first-time purchase.
Making a features wish list is an exciting first step to becoming a first-time homeowner — this is where you can dream. But be warned that when you actually start looking and see what’s on the market, you may need to mitigate those “musts”. It might not be possible to get all those “gets” in one go, so prioritize what’s most important right now. You can always add those desired features down the road, but you can’t change the neighbourhood or the size of the backyard.
Expect the Expected
Unless you’re buying a brand-new home, chances are that when you finally find “the” house, there will be something wrong with it. A house inspector can flag anything from small fixes (a broken gutter) to major structural issues (rotting foundations) — so be prepared. Deciding if they’re deal breakers is up to you, but a thorough inspection can help with negotiations, so embrace the bad news.